In a move that came as a surprise to me, wide sections of Egypt's middle and upper classes threw their support behind the military in the first days of July and accepted the military coup as the path to the country's salvation.
Those supporters were really a bunch of "strange bed-fellows" including intellectuals, thinkers, political and human-rights' activists who one would have not imagined to choose a military led coup d'état over a democracy -- no matter how unsatisfactory the performance of the elected government was. And stranger still -- despite the bloodshed and oppression practiced by the coup leaders -- very few of them repented to date and saw the error of their ways (most notably Mohamed El-Baradei, the acting Vice President for international affairs and former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency).
Accepting the military coup by the upper and upper-middle class is more understandable. Their priorities are their bank accounts and the comfort they enjoy in their daily lives, and the turmoil and change that follow a revolution don't serve such priorities well.
Coptic Christians and other minority groups, in the most part, also supported the military coup. I can understated that they would be worried and uncomfortable to be ruled by a government with an Islamic background yet, on the other hand, why would they think that the coup would lead to rulers who are any different from those who ruled Egypt over the past many decades and under whom they complained of facing so many problems? How could they not see that the lasting protection for everyone's rights, majority and minority can only be a democratic system which constitutionally and practically guarantees rights and freedoms?
Looking back -- and hindsight, as they say, is 20/20 -- the orchestration of support for the coup was not spontaneous and was not a result of dissatisfaction with Morsi's rule, alone. The media that continued under Morsi to enjoy the same level of freedom it enjoyed since the January 2011 revolution was infiltrated by many Mubarak regime loyalists who managed to keep, or regain, prominence. Those helped spread the fear of the Muslim Brotherhood among the population and managed to magnify Morsi's every failure and ignore his few successes.
It is true that there were not many successes, but I don't believe this should be attributed to Morsi or the Muslim Brotherhood inadequacy alone. The difficult situation the country was left in by Mubarak and the lack of cooperation Morsi received from the Deep State (a name given to powerful figures of the Mubarak regime who continued to have influence in the army, police, civil service, media and other state organizations) are factors that should not be ignored.
The coup leaders falsified the level of support they received to claim legitimacy. The numbers of those who demonstrated on June 30 was illogically and unscientifically exaggerated. Moreover, not everyone who participated in the June 30 demonstrations supported the military's overthrow of the elected president despite them being clearly unsatisfied with his performance.
When the coup's claimed legitimacy started to wear out, another cover had to be found. Enter the war on terrorism, the 21st century's magic word that silences all dissent. The coup leaders and their civilian cover-up president and cabinet decided to play the terrorism card to justify their criminal violent killings of civilians who were exercising the right to protest which they gained through the 2011 revolution and which so many paid for with their blood.
The demonstrations that took place since July 3 were largely peaceful. No one can guarantee that a sit-in of tens of thousands will not have some armed people and no one can claim that it will be 100 percent peaceful. No one can guarantee that it will not be infiltrated by undercover provocative agents, either. But all this does not mean it is "terrorism" or should justify handling it with the level of violence seen on Aug. 14.
Despite such violence by the authorities I condemn any attacks on churches, state buildings and on any property or person that followed. And this leads me to the foremost reason I am against the coup.
When people stop believing that they can express their will and participate in ruling their country through the ballot box they will turn to violence. No matter how long the state can suppress people to contain violence, violence will eventually break out and burn everyone. Moreover, during the era of suppression itself (long or short) life for all would be a nightmare of fear, injustice and oppression under a police state that no one in his/her right mind should chose to live through.
The army has no place in the political process and should stay out of it. The coup should be defeated and democracy restored, otherwise Egypt would face a bleak future -- quite a contrast to the bright future we imagined in February of 2011.
Ehab Lotayef is a Montreal engineer, poet/writer and activist. He is of Egyptian origin. You can follow Ehab Lotayef on Twitter @Lotayef58
This article was originally published on The Huffington Post and is reprinted here with permission.
On August 14, 2013, Ehab Lotayef wrote the poem, 'State of Emergency'. Here is the original Arabic version, followed by an English translation. An audio version is available here.
عيني عليكي يا حرية
قلبي معاكي يا حرية
طعنوكي بخنجر مسموم
كتبوا عليه : ليبرالية
عيني عليكي يا حرية
فـقلبك حسرة وحنّية
على زَهرِة وِلد بهية
على كل وِلد بهية
واللي إنتقموا ، اللي عَمتهم الكراهية
واللي إمبارح هدّوا السجن
ورجعوا اليوم من تاني بنوه
علشان يوسع كل بلدنا
فـي الايام السودة الجاية
State of Emergency
Freedom … for you I weep
Freedom … I feel your pain
They hid a poisoned blade under the cloak of liberalism
and stabbed you in the back
Freedom … I feel your pain
You cry for Egypt's brightest children
You cry for all Egypt's children
Those who protested
and those who assaulted -- blinded by hate
And those who demolished the prison
only to rebuild it: higher, larger
to have room for the whole country
in these dark days which are upon us
Thank you for reading this story…
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